Rusty at Nine Moons has recently offered a tri-partite model of nudity:
The model is useful, and offers some insights into understanding the varying responses to the same stimulus among different subjects. The discussion at Nine Moons is interesting and worth checking out.
I offer this here because Rustyâ€™s post caused me to reflect on my own recent experiences with public nudity.
No, no, no, not me. I had all my clothes on. I made my first trip across the pond in July, to Barcelona, to attend a conference. Barcelona lies on the Mediterranean coast, and has many beaches.
Walking along the beach, I couldnâ€™t help but notice that there were quite a few more naked people there than at the beaches on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where I vacation with my family each year. At first, I didnâ€™t quite know what to do with myself â€“ where to look â€“ but after a while, I stopped worrying, and consequently stopped noticing.
Now Iâ€™m sure all of you non-American readers and seasoned world travelers are laughing at me at this point, but the whole experience came as a revelation to me. As I pondered the matter on the plane ride home, it occurred to me that what had happened was that I changed how I classified topless women on the beach. The difference between a bikini-clad woman and a bare-breasted woman had become a difference in degree instead of a difference in kind.
This realization has been helpful to me, not because it gives me license to ogle womenâ€™s breasts, but for the opposite reason, because it has given me cause to reconsider how I react to the sight of not-quite-naked women. Do I have the same response? If not, why not? Shouldnâ€™t I find the sight of provocatively attired women as much a cause for concern as completely undressed women, if not more so? The two are not that different, after all.
Going further, I find myself searching for other perceived differences in kind that I can turn into differences of degree. For example, I often used to think the occasional copyright violation was quite different than shoplifting. Now, that distinction is less clear. And Iâ€™ve always considered homosexual activity between unmarried persons to be of the same kind as unmarried heterosexual activity.
One thing is clear, however: The Red Sox and Yankees are of different kinds. No amount of arguing will convince me otherwise (The Curse lives! Games 4 and 5 notwithstanding).